The gospel

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In Christianity, the gospel or good news is the news of the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God.[1] This message is expounded upon as a narrative in the four canonical gospels, and as theology in many of the New Testament epistles. As theology it is expanded, and related to the death by crucifixion of Jesus. It perceives this as saving acts of God due to the work of Jesus on the cross and Jesus' resurrection from the dead which bring reconciliation between people and God.

Christian theology describes the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ not as a new concept, but one that has been foretold throughout the Old Testament and was prophetically preached even at the time of the fall of man as contained in Genesis 3:14–15,[2] which has been called the "Proto-Evangelion" or "Proto-Gospel".[3][a][5][b]

Etymology[edit]

Gospel (/ˈɡɒspəl/) is the Old English translation of Greek εὐαγγέλιον, meaning "good news".[7] This may be seen from analysis of euangélion (εὖ, , '"good"' + ἄγγελος, ángelos, '"messenger"' + -ιον, -ion diminutive suffix). The Greek term was Latinized as evangelium in the Vulgate, and translated into Latin as bona annuntiatio.

In Old English, it was translated as gōdspel (gōd, "good" + spel, "news"). The Old English term was retained as gospel in Middle English Bible translations and hence remains in use also in Modern English.

Written accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus are also generally known as Gospels.[c]

Biblical background[edit]

Depicted is Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount in which he commented on the Jewish Law. Some scholars consider this event to be a completion or fulfilling ("antitype") of the proclamation by Moses on Mount Sinai of the Ten Commandments and the promises and law of God (the "Mosaic Covenant").[citation needed]

The Roman Catholic Church promotes the teaching of the good news in the context of biblical salvation history as a "fundamental part of the content" of its instruction.[8] There are numerous exponents of the biblical theology approach to understanding the good news. Some Christian teachers and biblical theologians who have published descriptions of the Bible authors' message in terms of salvation history include Köstenberger and O'Brien,[9] who have published a biblical theology of mission; and Goldsworthy[10] who writes from an evangelical Christian perspective. Many Bible scholars and Christian groups have placed similar descriptions on the internet.[11] There is a degree of variation in perspective between such descriptions.

In many Reformed and Protestant circles, the Romans Road to Salvation is used to explain the gospel.[12] This first mentions the bad news of the sinful nature of all humans:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23[13]

It then goes onto mention how sin leads to death and so we are all in need of saving:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23[14]

And ends with the good news that we have been saved:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8[15]

In the Pauline epistles[edit]

Paul gave the following summary, one of the earliest Christian Creeds, (translated into English) of this good news (gospel) in the First Epistle to the Corinthians:

Now I make known to you, brothers and sisters, the gospel which I preached to you, which you also received, in which you also stand, by which you also are saved, if you hold firmly to the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I handed down to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures

— 1 Corinthians 15:1–4[16]

Paul describes the gospel as being powerful and salvific:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16[17]

In Acts[edit]

The good news can be summarized in many ways, reflecting various emphases. C. H. Dodd[18] has summarized the Christian good news as taught by the apostle Peter in the Acts of the Apostles:[19]

  • The age of fulfilment has dawned;
  • This has taken place through the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus;
  • By virtue of the resurrection, Jesus has been exalted at the right hand of God, as Messianic head of the new Israel;
  • The Holy Spirit in the Church is the sign of Christ's present power and glory;
  • The Messianic Age will shortly reach its consummation in the return of Christ.

In various Christian movements[edit]

"The certain mark by which a Christian community can be recognized is the preaching of the gospel in its purity."—Martin Luther[20]

The good news is described in many different ways in the Bible. Each one reflects different emphases, and describes part or all of the biblical narrative. Christian teaching of the good news—including the preaching of the Apostles in the Book of Acts—generally focuses upon the resurrection of Jesus and its implications. Sometimes in the Bible, the good news is described in other terms, but it still describes God's saving acts. For example, the Apostle Paul taught that the good news was announced to the patriarch Abraham in the words, "All nations will be blessed through you." (Galatians 3:6–9;[21] c.f. Genesis 12:1–3).[22]

Liberation theology[edit]

Liberation theology, articulated in the teachings of Latin American Catholic theologians Leonardo Boff and Gustavo Gutiérrez, emphasizes that Jesus came not only to save humanity, but also to liberate the poor and oppressed. A similar movement among the Latin American evangelical movement is the integral mission, in which the church is seen as an agent for positively transforming the wider world, in response to the good news.[23] This can likewise be seen in black theology of certain African and African American Christians.[citation needed]

Christian mission[edit]

Missionary preaching in China using The Wordless Book

The Christian missions movement believes the Christian good news to be a message for all peoples, of all nations, tribes, cultures and languages. This movement teaches that it is through the good news of Jesus that the nations of humanity are restored to relationship with God and that the destiny of the nations is related to this process.[citation needed] Missiology professor Howard A. Snyder writes, "God has chosen to place the Church with Christ at the very center of His plan to reconcile the world to himself".[24][25]

Another perspective described in the Pauline epistles is that it is through the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection, and the resulting worship of people from all nations, that evil is defeated on a cosmic scale. Reflecting on the third chapter of Ephesians 3,[26] theologian Howard A. Snyder writes:

God's plan for the church extends to the fullest extent of the cosmos. By God's 'manifold wisdom' the Church displays an early fullness of what Christ will accomplish at the conclusion of all the ages. The spectacle is to reach beyond the range of humanity, even to the angelic realms. The church is to be God's display of Christ's reconciling love.[27]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Messianic prophecy has its origin in Genesis 3:15, which has been called the "protevangelium," the first Gospel promise. It was spoken by the LORD God (יְהוָה אֱלֹהִם) to the Serpent, used by Satan, in the hearing of Adam and Eve."[4]
  2. ^ "After the Fall of man (Gen. 3) and its dire results, the loss of Paradise (3:23f.), death by sin (3:3; Rom. 5:12), and the cursing of the ground (3:17), preceded by the Protevangelium (3:15), the first revelation of the missio Dei, the Scriptures continue with the generations of Adam and the names of all the patriarchs from Adam to Noah..."[6]
  3. ^ Evangelism is the spreading of the evangelium, i.e. Christian proselytization, see also the Great Commission. Evangelicalism is a 20th century branch of Protestantism that emphasizes the reception of the "good news" by the individual (see also Low church), in contrast to the traditional and historical emphasis on the communal aspect of the Church's guardianship of the authentic Gospel (see also High church) as crucial to the salvation of the faithful (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus).

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Mark 1:14-15
  2. ^ 3:14-15
  3. ^ The Proto-Gospel, by R. C. Sproul.Archived 2008-12-03 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Luther and the Christology of the Old Testament Archived 2015-01-20 at the Wayback Machine, by Dr. Raymond F. Surburg, p14
  5. ^ The Lutheran Study Bible, p20, "3:15...This points to Christ and His defeat of Satan on the cross, and for this reason this verse is often called the 'protevangelium' (the first promise of the Gospel)"
  6. ^ Worldwide Mission: The Work of the Triune God Archived 2015-01-20 at the Wayback Machine, by Dr. Paul Peter, p3
  7. ^ Woodhead 2004, p. 4.
  8. ^ General Directory for Catechesis 1997, paragraph108
  9. ^ Köstenberger and O'Brien, 2001
  10. ^ Goldsworthy, 1991
  11. ^ For an example, see 'Biblical Theology' in Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
  12. ^ "What Is the Romans Road to Salvation?". Christianity.com. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  13. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Romans 3:23 - New International Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  14. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Romans 6:23 - New International Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  15. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Romans 5:8 - New International Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  16. ^ 1 Corinthians 15:1–4
  17. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Romans 1:16 - New International Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  18. ^ What Does Kerygma Mean?
  19. ^ The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments
  20. ^ Tappert, T.G., Selected Writings of Martin Luther, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007, p.325
  21. ^ Galatians 3:6–9
  22. ^ Genesis 12:1–3
  23. ^ Padilla 2004, p. 20
  24. ^ Snyder 1999, p. 139
  25. ^ Ephesians 1:20-23
  26. ^ Ephesians 3
  27. ^ Snyder 1999, p. 138

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  • Dodd, C. H. 1964 The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments Harper and Row.
  • General Directory for Catechesis 1997, Congregation for the Clergy
  • Goldsworthy, G, 1991, According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible Sydney: Lancer Press.
  • Johnstone, P, 2001, Operation World, Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Lifestyle.
  • Köstenberger, A and P. O'Brien, 2001, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission New Studies in Biblical Theology 11, Leicester: Apollos.
  • Padilla, R, 2004, 'An Ecclesiology for Integral Mission,' in The Local Church, Agent of Transformation: An Ecclesiology for Integral Mission, T. Yamamori and C. R. Padilla, eds, Buenos Aires: Kairos Ediciones.
  • Snyder, H. A., 1999, 'The Church in God's Plan,' in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 3rd edn, Pasadena, California: William Carey Library.
  • Jepsen, Bent Kim, 2009 The Origin of Good News[1]

External links[edit]